A moment

A mate of mine had "a moment" last month.

The moment lasted about 12 hours and involved a bottle of Scotch and sleeping pills but I guess it was better than him using a syringe, handgun or other people.

For the record, it wasn't a suicide attempt, more a need for oblivion, an apparently very successful endeavour to slow the pulse of shit that threatens to overwhelm him at times.

He phoned me feeling a little 'Australian Swimming Team' - after the fourth Stilnox and sixth inch of Jameson - to gibber about his "pain" and I was caught between two responses.

1. You're a narcissistic, self-indulgent wanker.

2. Thank you for making me feel normal.

I went with the latter.

The next day, I reflected that I - as a member of the media - was partly the cause of his problems, so I should also try to be part of the solution. Here goes.

Like it or not, TV, magazines, music, the web, films and fashion - they all claw for our attention. Everywhere you look, we're shown happy, shiny, super-successful people who live lives completely at odds with existence.


Unable to distinguish fact from fiction, a lot of people spend a lot of time trying to duplicate fantasy, then feel miserable when they can't. So consumed, they forget to appreciate the simple, timeless fulfilment of what they do have.

On the other hand, we're also bombarded with TV shows where people cry because their bathroom doesn't "win the week" or they have their "dream" of becoming a supermodel chef prawn trawler captain "crushed" by a "judge".

Magazine headlines bestow gravitas to weight-loss instead of wisdom. Materialism is depicted as the source of happiness, rather than an insidious distraction from it.

Real problems like paying bills, losing your job, struggling with ill health, addiction or head noises get marginalised or they're dramatised to the point where everything can be solved in a half-hour of TV.

When and if a celebrity or public figure has a meltdown, we, the media, gleefully dissect or exaggerate it so people become defined by their moments of weakness.

When people's masks slip and we get a glimpse of how they cope with life, or fail to, we pounce and prance upon their fallibility. Thus, whenever we feel similarly insecure, insane or unable to deal with stuff, the conditioned response is shame.

The reality is we all have "moments", but the intensity, frequency and duration differ from person to person and we all tussle with them in different ways.

Booze and sleeping pills are not a particularly constructive method but no animals were harmed in the making of my friend's rather maudlin production.

He had some spare time. He used it poorly but he knows himself well enough to understand the moment does not define the man or woman.

Back in March, the "Global Drug Survey" hit the front pages, revealing Australians are abusing prescription drugs at "alarming rates", yet our number one dissipative darling is still booze. I thought "derr".

As comedian Russell Brand wrote recently "drugs and alcohol are not my problem - reality is my problem. Drugs and alcohol are my solution".

Seems plenty of us agree.

If you are in need of support or information about suicide prevention contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or talk to someone you trust.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.